Skip to main content

Full text of "A history of Persia"

See other formats

250                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP.
Jenkinson, a typical merchant-adventurer of the period.
Appointed in 1557, after the death of Chancellor, to the
post of captain-general of the Muscovy Company's fleet
sailing for Russia, he was undoubtedly eager to carry out
the instructions of his employers, which ran : " That
you use all wayes and meanes possible to learne how
men may passe from Russia either by land or by sea to
Cathaia." As the sequel proves, he learned much.
The Tsar Ivan the Terrible was most favourably im-
pressed by the Englishman, and in A.D. 1559 despatched
him as his ambassador to Bokhara, a remarkable com-
pliment to his personality. During the course of this
journey Jenkinson acquired a place among our greatest
explorers as the first Englishman to descend the Volga
and to visit Khiva and Bokhara. Throughout his travels
he kept a careful diary, and we learn among other things
that at the time of his visit, in A.D. 1559, the Uzbeg
Prince Abdulla was about to start on the first of his great
raids into Khorasan. Jenkinson returned safely to Russia,
having not only accomplished his mission with success,
but having at the same time acquired much informa-
tion as to the route to Cathay. Later he returned to
In A.D. 1561 he again headed an expedition with
instructions to attempt to open up commercial relations
with Persia across Russia, a truly daring scheme in view
of the fact that the latter power had only just acquired
control of the Volga. But the route ma Hormuz was
out of the question, as not for another half-century was
the English flag to appear in the Persian Gulf, and the
Levant trade was monopolized by Genoa and Venice.
Consequently, as Ivan waived all customs duties, the
venture seemed good enough to tempt the lion-hearted
Englishmen of the period.
Jenkinson, to whom the Tsar " committed matter of
importance and charge, to be done when I should arrive
in those countries," left Moscow with the Ambassador of
Persia, and travelling down the Volga, reached Astrakhan
without incident. He encountered a terrible storm on
the Caspian Sea, which justified its bad reputation im-